DFC Search In Depth

By Jimmy Nichols,2014-10-28 12:35
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DFC Search In Depth

    DFC Search In Depth

    This article explores Documentum search features with a heavy focus on the Java DFC APIs related to search.


    This article explores Documentum search features with a heavy focus on the Java DFC APIs related to search. Documentum product manuals are invaluable resources in coming to understand these concepts, but in many cases they are missing important detailsdetails that you would

    otherwise have to learn via prototyping and trial and error. In this article I’ll attempt to cover these missing details while providing a focused overview of DFC search and query features.

    The Simple Query API

    DFC’s simple query API allows you to execute queries expressed as DQL

    strings. Here’s an example:

     public IDfCollection getLargeDocuments(IDfSession session)

     throws DfException


     IDfQuery query = new DfClientX().getQuery();


     "SELECT * FROM dm_document " +

     " WHERE r_full_content_size > 1000000");

     return query.execute(session, IDfQuery.DF_READ_QUERY);


    Here, we create an IDfQuery instance using the factory method IDfClientX.getQuery(). Then we populate the query with a valid DQL string and call the query’s execute() method with an IDfSession instance. DFC documentation refers to this as “the simple query API.” There are some significant limitations to this API:

    ; Only queries on a single repository are permitted. The target of

    the query is implicitly the default repository of the provided


    ; Only Documentum repositories can be queried. You cannot query an

    external, federated (ECIS) source.

    ; There is no support for programmatically building queries; only

    explicit DQL query strings are supported.

    ; Executing a query is always a thread-blocking operation; that is,

    the thread issuing the API call blocks until the query results are


    The search service API, included in Documentum 5.3 SP1 and later releases, resolves these limitations. The next section covers this extensive API in detail.

    The Search Service API

    The search service API is rooted at the IDfSearchService interface:

    Figure 1: The IDfSearchService interface.

    To obtain an instance of this class, use IDfClient.newSearchService():

IDfSearchService searchService =

     new DfClientX().getLocalClient().newSearchService(mgr, repo);

    The first parameter of the newSearchService() factory method is an IDfSessionManager that knows connection credentials for all of the repositories you wish to query. The second parameter is a String that specifies the default repository to use for metadata when querying external ECIS sourcesyou can use null for this parameter in the case that you are only searching Documentum repositories.

    Note: ECIS is a Documentum technology that allows arbitrary (non-Documentum) content sources to be adapted and accessed via Documentum search.

    Building Queries

    Now that we have a search service instance, how do we create a query and then execute it? The way queries are built using the search service API is not through DQL–in fact, the API doesn’t accept DQL at all. Instead, the API requires you to express your query using a query builder (or

    ) API. With this API, you build your query programmatically using criteria

    the IDfQueryBuilder and related interfaces in the DFC package Here’s a simple example that

    demonstrates building a query using IDfQueryBuilder. The query finds all dm_documents whose object_name attribute contains the word “sphygmomanometer”:

     IDfQueryManager queryManager = searchService.newQueryMgr();

     IDfQueryBuilder query = queryMgr.newQueryBuilder("dm_document");

     IDfExpressionSet root = builder.getRootExpressionSet();





     true /* isCaseSensitive */,

     false /* isRepeated */,


    There are several methods on the IDfQueryBuilder interface that allow you to specify the details of your query, but in this example we keep things simple and express the query as a single attribute constraint. To understand this API, it helps to see the DQL-equivalent of the built query:

SELECT * FROM dm_document

     WHERE object_name LIKE '%sphygmomanometer%'

    We should point out that the search service actually generates DQL under the covers for search sources that are Documentum repositories. You can actually see the generated DQL for searches like these by enabling the log in the DFC log4j configuration.

    The above query selects all attributes in the query. You can scope the result attributes by specifying them explicitly:


This example restricts the query’s selected attributes to object_name.

    In this case, the query builder API will automatically add r_object_id to the selected attributes list. If the built query contains a full-text expression, then score will also be added to the selected attribute list. Attribute constraints are added to an IDfQueryBuilder query through its expression set tree rooted at IDfQueryBuilder.getRootExpressionSet() which returns an IDfExpressionSet instance. With this interface you can express arbitrary, nested logical expressions. We’ll look at a more complicated example, but first let’s introduce a little “adaptor method” to simplify our codethe addSimpleAttrExpression() is just too lengthy:


     * Add a case-insensitive 'contains' constraint to the

     * provided {@link IDfExpressionSet}. Assume the provided

     * attribute name identifies a non-repeating String

     * attribute.


     void addContains(IDfExpressionSet expressionSet,

     String attributeName,

     String value)





     false /* isCaseSensitive */,

     false /* isRepeated */,



    Now we can add simple attribute expressions in a much more concise form:

     public IDfQueryBuilder buildQuery(IDfQueryManager queryMgr)

     throws DfException


     // This no-arg factory method defaults to search type

     // "dm_sysobject"

     IDfQueryBuilder query = queryMgr.newQueryBuilder();

     IDfExpressionSet root = query.getRootExpressionSet();

     addContains(root, "object_name", "Some File");

     addContains(root, "owner_name", "Zarnk");

     IDfExpressionSet sub = root.addExpressionSet();


     addContains(sub, "subject", "mnemonist");

     addContains(sub, "title", "mnemonist");

     return query;


    Note the use of the setLogicalOperator() method. Each expression set has an associated logical operator (one of AND or OR) . The default operator is AND, which is why we don’t have to set the logical operator for the root set. Also note that the OR expression set is added as a member of the AND expression set to form a nested expression. In DQL, the corresponding criteria is:

     ... FROM dm_sysobject WHERE

     (object_name LIKE '%Some File%'

     AND owner_name LIKE '%Zarnk%'

     AND (subject LIKE '%mnemonist%'

     OR title LIKE '%mnemonist%'))

IDfExpressionSet in Detail

    IDfExpressionSet is an important part of the query builder API. Here is the full interface:

    Figure 2: The IDfExpressionSet interface.

    The addFullTextExpression() method has very interesting undocumented behavior, so let’s explore it before we move on. It’s easy to guess the semantics of the following query:

     IDfQueryBuilder query = queryManager.newQueryBuilder();

     IDfExpressionSet root = query.getRootExpressionSet();


    The DQL equivalent of this query is as you would expect:

     ... FROM dm_sysobject SEARCH DOCUMENT CONTAINS 'Hello'

But what about the following query?

     IDfQueryBuilder query = queryMgr.newQueryBuilder("dm_document");

     IDfExpressionSet root = query.getRootExpressionSet();



     IDfExpressionSet sub = root.addExpressionSet();



     addContains(sub, "object_name", "horsefeathers");

    This appears to be a valid search for all documents that contain “Hello” and “Goodbye” and either contain “Whaddup” or have an object_name that

    matches “horsefeathers”. This query cannot be expressed in DQL; in DQL syntax, the SEARCH DOCUMENT CONTAINS clause is separate from the WHERE clause so there is no way to mix full-text search contraints and metadata constraints in a logical expression. It turns out that this query is not supported by the search service API, either. At runtime, the above query will produce in an INVALID_FULLTEXT_EXPRESSION error when executed. (There is a caveat to this, however. If full-text indexing is disabled in via the property, each full-text expression in the above query is automatically converted into a metadata constraint and the query will be succesfully built and executed.)

    We’re still not done with the addFullTextExpression() method. Take a look at the following query and try to guess what DQL is generated for it:

     IDfQueryBuilder query = queryManager.newQueryBuilder();

     IDfExpressionSet root = query.getRootExpressionSet();

     root.addFullTextExpression("Bob or Sue");

Here’s a hint. It’s one of the following:

    (a) ...FROM dm_sysobject SEARCH DOCUMENT CONTAINS ('Bob or Sue') (b) ...FROM dm_sysobject SEARCH DOCUMENT CONTAINS ('Bob' or 'Sue')

    These are two very different queries that produce drastically different result sets, so the answer is important. Okay, let’s kill the suspense–it’s (b). When the query is prepared for execution, the search service acknowledges the lexical forms of the operators AND and OR when parsing each full-text value and generates DQL with the criteria separated by each operator (also acknowledging parantheses.) In some sense, this is very convenient behaviorwhen offering a search box to a user in a

    UI, for example, we won’t have to do this parsing ourselves.

Searching Multiple Repositories

    One significant feature of the search service API is its ability to execute a query across multiple repositories. The addSelectedSource() method on the IDfQueryBuilder interface specifies which sources the query should search. As expected, not adding any such selected sources to your query will result in empty results.

    As an example, let’s suppose we wish to search two repositories

    “gargamel” and “punky”. Here’s how you would add these sources to your query:

     IDfQueryBuilder query = ...



    Recall that the search service we use to execute our search must be created with a session manager that knows the credentials required to access these repositories. Otherwise, the search service will generate errors during query execution.

    You can also dynamically query for available sources using IDfSearchService.getSourceMap(). The following example adds all available sources (those visible to the doc broker(s) that are configured in to a query:

     IDfSearchSourceMap sourceMap = searchService.getSourceMap();

     IDfEnumeration sources =


     while (sources.hasMoreElements()) {

     IDfSearchSource source = (IDfSearchSource) sources.nextElement();



Executing Queries

    Now that we know how to build a query, let’s demonstrate how to execute one:

     IDfQueryProcessor processor =

     service.newQueryProcessor(query, true /* noDuplicates */);


     IDfResultsSet results = processor.getResults();

    This example uses the search service to create an IDfQueryProcessor that can execute the search. Then, a blocking search is issued with a timeout of 0 to indicate that the calling thread should not timeout until the search is finished executing. We can also initiate a non-blocking search and monitor the processor for the results as they come in. If you’ve ever developed a WDK application, this is what the WDK search component does in order to dynamically display the status of a search to the user. We’ll

    touch on asynchronous search in the next section.

    Advanced Topics

    Asynchronous Search

    Aysnchronous searches are invoked via the method:

     final IDfQueryProcessor processor =

     service.newQueryProcessor(query, true /* removeDupes */);

     processor.addListener(new MyQueryListener());;

     IDfResultsSet results = processor.getResults();

    In this example, we create a listener (implementing IDfQueryListener) that will be notified of search events such as when the search is completed. Then we invoke the query processor’s asynchronous search() method. This

    method delegates the query processing to separate thread(s) that are responsible for sending the query to the various repositories and collecting and arregating the results. The processor listener we provided will be notified of various events during the results processing. Because this is an asynchronous search, the thread that invokes the search() method cannot expect the results to be complete right away. The results object in the code above will be populated as the search results are processed. There are couple of ways to determine the status of the search as it is being processedone is to use a listener object as

    demonstrated in the above example. Another approach is to use the

    IDfQueryProcessor.getQueryStatus() method to poll for the status. Note that polling query status in a non-blocking loop is a bad ideathis is

    the Busy Waiting antipattern.

    Results Processing

    The previous discussions have demonstrated how to obtain query results when issuing queries through the Search Service API. These results are returned as IDfResultsSet instances. Here we show an example that processes an IDfResultsSet instance by displaying the object_name attribute value for each result entry:

     private void showResultObjectNames(IDfResultsSet results) {

     for (int i = 0; i < results.size(); ++i) {

     IDfResultEntry result = results.getResultAt(i);

     String objectName = result.getString("object_name");




    The IDfResultEntry interface is extensive; more details can be found in the DFC Javadocs.

    Results Sorting

    How can we sort results returned through the Search Service API? Use IDfSearchService.newResultsManipulator() to create an instance of IDfResultsManipulator, which you can then use to sort query results:

     IDfResultsManipulator manipulator =


     IDfResultsSet sorted =

     manipulator.sortBy(results, "object_name", true);

    If the results here are from an asynchronous search, then when the sort is issued only, the currently accumulated results are sorted and a new IDfResultSet instance is returned.

    Metadata Manager

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